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Remember my Young Adult serial, Nightmare Born, which was a Radish exclusive? Well, good news! It’s no longer exclusive (although, Radish readers, fear not. The chapters you unlocked will still be there!). On October 27th, Nightmare Born will be available in ebook and paperback. I’m so proud of this story and so happy to be reclaiming my roots in Urban Fantasy with a new series! And check out this amazing new cover from Covers By Kris!
Conceived in dream. Born a nightmare.
There are a lot of things I know: story structure, Hollywood trivia, what makes a director great… It’s the stuff I didn’t know–who my real father is, that my uncle is a demon, the fact that I’m not human–that’s gotten me into so much trouble.
After ripping my crush’s heart out–literally–I discover that I’m not just a normal autistic seventeen-year-old. I’m the daughter of the King of Nightmares, the cruel and excessively goth ruler of the Nether. Now, I’m stuck at Miss Perkins’s School for Girls, learning how to exist in a world where things really do go bump in the night.
Dangerous magic, treacherous enemies, unfairly hot vampires, and magic schools are all tropes I love in movies. But throw them into my real life? Hard pass. And I still have to deal with queen bees and bullies while unraveling a conspiracy that could crumble the very foundations of reality as we know it? That’s bullsh–
Nightmare Born is available to pre-order as an e-book on Amazon; paperback buy links and other platform pre-order and purchase links will be added as they become available.
Everything is ruined! Enjoy this list of the funniest spontaneous things I’ve ever seen and heard and come back to mentally when I need a chuckle (and remembered while writing this post).
Mr. Jen and I were stuck behind a car taking forever in the McDonald’s drive-thru. Soundgarden’s “Spoonman” was on the radio. Finally fed up, Mr. Jen, in a near-perfect Chris Cornell impression, yells, “DECIIIIIIIDE MAAAAA’AM” along with the music.
The Liberty Bell
My BFF Jill and I went to see the Liberty Bell together. In the gift shop, the famous picture of Thomas Jefferson handing Benjamin Franklin the Declaration of Independence was hanging on the wall. Jill looked up and said quietly, “Hey, can I get your John Hancock on this?”
Out raising teenaged hell with some friends, we decided to go to a local church’s playground to smoke weed at around two in the morning. My friend Sean launched himself from the car shouting, “SWIIIIIIIIINGS!” as he ran at full speed across the church’s lawn. We heard an enormous, ringing clang, and Sean was suddenly flying through the air, arms and legs flailing. At the edge of the playground were a series of iron balance beams that were exactly knee-high to Sean and totally invisible from the particular angle that Sean had been running.
Balancing Act #2
Auditions for the Celery Flats Shakespeare Festival in Portage, MI were always held in the big barn behind the theater. The Celery Flats is an area where people go jogging and biking and skating on the trails and there’s an old-timey village. It was very hot, so the barn doors were open on both sides. I just happened to be seated directly across from the doors that looked out onto a busy section of the skating paths. A man on rollerblades skated into view and stumbled, somehow ending up with both legs off the ground, but in a sitting position. The frame of the barn door cut off my view of the impact of his fall, so for a few seconds, he flew past in the air as if he were seated on an invisible bus driving by.
My Best Behavior
A friend is the granddaughter of the much-beloved former mayor of a humble Michigan town. He was being honored during their town’s annual parade and my friend invited me to come along, provided I didn’t “do anything weird.” We viewed the parade from risers reserved for special guests and their families. Before the parade started, there were some kids riding their bikes along the route. One of them fell and without a second thought, I pointed with my arm fully extended and shouted, “HA! That kid just fell off his bike.”
Years ago, I jokingly said I would have sex with Bill Clinton. My Grandpa Pat shot back, “Jenny, that man’s had a heart attack. He can’t do that kind of heavy lifting.”
Gramps Burn #2
As a child, I had a huge gap between my two front teeth. I was around ten when, at the dinner table, I stuck a toothpick into the gap and said, “Look, it fits in there!” Grandpa Pat said, “Jenny, you can fit the log that toothpick come from in there.”
While preparing for my Uncle John and Aunt Wendy’s 25th-anniversary party, my cousin asked my Grandma Z, “What time does the party start?” In my best Ke$ha voice I sang, “Well the party don’t start ’til I walk in!” To which my Grandma Z replied, dryly, “The party starts at four, Jenny.”
Devastating Dad Joke
My stepdad tells my sister and I that we’re “pretty in two ways. Pretty ugly, and pretty apt to stay that way.”
Mr. Jen and I were driving down the road with all of our windows up, yet somehow the mere sight of a field of flowers gripped Mr. Jen with a sneeze so powerful, his head went around and around three times to wind up for it.
My BFF Holly and I were terrible kids. Just terrible. One day, while her sister, Nikki, was in charge of the house, I put salt in Holly’s glass of Coke while her back was turned. This escalated into a food fight that doused the kitchen in water, condiments, flour, eggs, and anything else remotely wet. The fight then moved into the guest bathroom, where toothpaste and shampoo became involved and, I regret to say, one tube of chapstick, which Holly rolled all the way up and smashed into my ear. By the time Nikki noticed that we were wrecking the house, the damage was done. The cupboards, floor, walls, even the ceiling in some spots, not to mention the furniture in both rooms and the adjoining hallway were covered with the nastiest mixtures imaginable. Nikki turned to us, pure, totally justified murder in her eyes, and shouts, “GET. OUT!” She pushed us out of the sliding glass door before we could grab our shoes, so there we were, walking down the road barefoot in Michigan in April when Holly’s dad pulls up. He leans out the window and says, “Hey there, Lil’ Pups. Where are your shoes? It’s cold out.” And Holly, with the most pitiable, Dickensian orphan expression I’ve ever seen, replied somberly, “Nikki kicked us out of the house without our shoes.” Their dad drove back to the house angry with Nikki, who was left to clean up the mess because as the adult at home, she let things get out of hand. That’s right. I said “As the adult.” Nikki wasn’t way older than Holly and I; we were fourteen and far, far old enough to know better.
After complaining about a wasp nest in a tree outside our house, I came home to find my cousin D-Rock standing on our roof with a can of homemade napalm and a bow and arrows. Her brilliant plan? To shoot flaming arrows into the nest. While drunk. And on a roof.
It occurs to me that I may have told all of these stories before. But I’m just trying to get back into the swing of writing something every day. At the very worst, you chuckled at the same thing twice.
IMPORTANT UPDATE: Maranda’s comment about her four-year-old’s pee experience reminded me of my kid’s four-year-old pee experience and I cannot believe I didn’t share it in here before. So, I give you:
Rest In Pees
We were in the car on a long country road late at night. My four-year-old needed to pee, so I pulled over, got him out, and said, okay, go potty. A car was coming by, so I was keeping an eye on them as my kid did his tinkle business. As the headlights flashed past, I saw that the spot my son had chosen to pee was a roadside memorial for someone who’d died in a car crash.
Dear Anonymous Exes:
I don’t know why I’m writing this letter. Maybe being surrounded by the plague and therefore constantly reminded of my own mortality has enticed me to look back on my life and start listening to Tori Amos albums again. Maybe watching my oldest child race toward that arbitrary mark of adulthood, the eighteenth birthday, has forced me to see my life through a wiser, more nostalgic lens. Certainly, my recent mental health struggles, rooted in ABA therapy in childhood, have made me scour my past for “aha!” moments to reflect on from my new perspective.
This new perspective is rooted not just in the arduous process of undoing or at least, learning to live with the way my personality was grafted onto me for the convenience of the adults in my life, but also from the stability of a relationship in which my partner and I have grown together and weathered personal changes and life’s traumas. As a romance writer, I constantly get asked if I draw on things from real life. I do, but not in the raised-eyebrows-wink-wink-research way people assume. It doesn’t take a ton of research to know whether or not you’d like to write about specific sex acts; emotional conflict has to be mined from personal experience to ring true. It’s all well and good to describe hurt or new love or anger with those words. It’s another thing to go back and in time and remember a specific moment when you felt a specific brand of one of those things.
As I struggle through this point in my career, wondering if there’s still room for me to write romance or if I still care about and enjoy the genre as much as I did when I started, where I’m going from here, I’ve been thinking about you, exes. Here are some messages to you, in no specific order, with no identifying markers and the continuity on shuffle:
You are in your forties. Please, do not buy a skateboard.
I will always consider you one of the loves of my life. I don’t know why I left you for a guy who’s considering buying a skateboard in his forties but after seeing the way you treated your partners after me, I’m so glad I did.
I shouldn’t have dated you. I was in love with your ex-girlfriend, not you. I just fundamentally did not understand my own sexuality and it caused me to misdirect my affection. Sorry I hurt you.
Okay, now that I think about it, I’m not 100% sure you’re actually going to buy that skateboard. Please, please tell me you’ve given up your shoplifting habit.
I know you had sex with the upstairs neighbor.
Dude, that was my first breakup. I’m sorry I cried so hard. I bet you felt terrible and you were really a nice kid.
The moment I met your parents, I knew we weren’t going anywhere.
After you broke up with me, I saw you from the window of my bus on the way home from work and I cried.
It was weird that you chose to dump me while I was asking you a question about Froot Loops.
You were too old to be dating a seventeen-year-old.
I should have lost my virginity to you.
Turns out, I’m not a terrible mother after all. I mean, I’m definitely not the mother you would have wanted for your children, so everything turned out for the best.
You smelled like a wet dog.
Hey, was that you in Red Lobster in 2008 waiting to go on a date, looking like you just got done painting houses? Pull it together, yo.
She’s out of your league, bro.
Your opening line was hilarious but I shouldn’t have gone home with you.
I can’t believe I let you break my heart.
I didn’t leave my watch at your place because I wanted an excuse to see you again. I left that watch at your place because I didn’t want to have to see you again. I just bought a new watch, bro.
In the future, don’t brag to the person you’re dating about how badly you treated all the people you dated before.
Your IG is ridiculous. We get it. You’re rich. Just like your parents.
Your IG is ridiculous. We get it. You have abs.
Your IG isn’t too bad. But your kids are ugly as hell.
You’re wrong about blowjobs being unhygienic but honestly, my neck has never been so relaxed in the early stages of a relationship.
I’ll admit it, I checked up on you out of curiosity. I’m so proud of the you that I knew years ago. I’m not gonna go digging but please don’t be a fucking Trump supporter.
I shouldn’t have lost my virginity to you.
Remember that time we were going to get groceries and you said, “Do you have the keys?” and I said, “Yeah,” and then we immediately started having tear-our-clothes-off sex on the floor right in front of the door? That was probably the coolest thing I’ve ever been able to pull off, in terms of smoothness and sexiness.
Why the fuck do you keep running into me right when we’ve both just noticed someone else’s fart? It isn’t my fart!
Your Crazy Ex You Probably Still Tell Horror Stories About
PS. If I see you on a skateboard I’m gonna circle the block to make various demoralizing remarks, loudly.